Glass: Symphony No. 8

COMPOSERS: Glass
LABELS: Orange Mountain Music
ALBUM TITLE: Glass
WORKS: Symphony No. 8
PERFORMER: Bruckner Ocrhestra, Linz/ Dennis Russell Davies
CATALOGUE NO: OMM 0028
Beginning like an exuberant concerto for orchestra and turning to lyrical gloom, Glass has given a fresh twist to his current penchant for slow endings. The bright start lays out several fast themes in contrasted colours and gives them a 20-minute workout at full speed: variations, new permutations and bracing cross-rhythms tumble over one another as the character turns shadowy, culminating in a menacing ostinato and a wittily harmonised dissolve.

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The performers’ polish and commitment are exceptional although they don’t drive it along energetically enough to ratchet up the tension at key moments – let’s hope Marin Alsop has a go at it soon. However, they are in their element for the rest, another extended sweep in a single tempo, first a passacaglia which becomes dominated by its first, solemn variant for brass and then a short, intensely hushed epilogue, its haunting melody for cor anglais akin to the brass passage and providing an apt summation of the symphony’s unexpected progress. Along with No. 6, one of the best things Glass has done in the genre. Robert Maycock